Work is underway to make more room for the faithful at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion. Attendance is growing at the only church-approved Marian Shrine in the U.S.
At the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, people gather for a blessing for a project about to begin.
“Look favorably on your children, for we have come with joy to begin work on this new construction,” prayed Bishop David Ricken of the Green Bay Catholic Diocese.
Wednesday work began on a new building here, the Prayer and Events Center, a multi-use facility able to seat up to 1,200 people.
“What we have here is very beautiful, but it’s not big enough to do everything we need to do,” said Ricken.
In 2008 just 10,00 people visited the shrine where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in the mid-1800s. But thanks to word of mouth and national media coverage, in 2018 attendance is projected to hit 160,000 people.
“For me it’s just how the Blessed Mother works out here, in gathering people I think way more than what we can even do,” said Shrine Chief Operating Officer Dan Warden.
Warden says the existing chapel has only seats 300 and old school building has just two small meeting rooms, with both facilities regularly exceeding their capacities. Warden says this new center will solve space problems.
“What we have now will help us comfortably accommodate the pilgrims that come out here the next 5 to 10 years,” Warden said.
“We want to be able to welcome them properly and provide the proper space, especially through the winter months,” Bishop Ricken said.
And now work is underway so the facility can open spring of 2019.